TP Does Matter, or: Don't Forget to Think Little While Thinking Big


As I’m cruising around the Internets reading away, I sometimes come across statistics like this one on toilet paper:

 “If every household in the U.S. bought just one four-pack of 260-sheet recycled bath tissue, it would eliminate 60,600 pounds of chlorine pollution, preserve 356 million gallons of fresh water, and save 988,000 trees,” says Jeffrey Hollender, 52, whose company, Seventh Generation, offers a range of environmentally conscious consumer goods.

Think about that. Almost a MILLION trees. Try picturing it….how many acres of greenness is that? And that’s only one four pack of TP; how many do you go through in a year? That means that many, many more trees than that are killed so we can wipe our asses (and blow our noses, and wipe up the bathroom sink when you don’t have time to really clean it….). That many trees being ripped down every year just seems totally ridiculous, not to mention the energy and chemicals needed to make those trees into TP, and ship it to your house, so your cat can unravel the whole roll in some kind of demented kitty playtime routine.


According to Conservatree, almost all ‘premium’ toilet tissue is made from virgin trees, so put that fluffy stuff down! OK, if you MUST have it, try ShitBeGone (seriously). Not only does it look cool in your bathroom, it’s a small company that is all about recycling AND humor. Does it get any better than that? In the words of the company website:

Who but a true asshole, would sell something that was made of 100% fresh ground up forests— more expensive than necessary— and engineered to encourage overuse? That’s corporate America for you…

Here’s the key: instead of puffing ourselves up with air, ShitBegone is content to be soft where it counts— against your ass.

We reject the idea, which other companies have advertised for years, that toilet paper is only soft if the roll feels squishy in your hand. The truth is it doesn’t matter a bit how soft the roll feels, since it’s not the roll you will be wiping with!

Instead, you wipe with just a few sheets. Some people crumple them, but the better way is to fold them.

When you crumple toilet paper, just like if you crumpled a piece of writing paper, it gets sharp edges and corners. Why would you want sharp corners on your toilet paper? Like all paper, toilet paper feels smoothest when it is flat.

Folding, instead of crumpling, also helps you use far less paper— saving energy, resources and money.

And I know, Seventh Generation, my fave recycled TP, is more expensive (but buy the 1000 sheet rolls, they don’t need to be changed as much and they’re cheaper if you do the calculations). And recycled can be hard to find if you’re buying from your local supermarket or urban bodega. In those cases, look for Marcal. They are a widely distributed brand, and from what I can tell, still family-owned by the Marcalus’; looks like Father and Son are the Pres. and VP of the company, how cute!

Green Marcal

You can check out all Marcal’s brands and their recycled content here. They even have a new line of recycled paper products called Sunrise, which has more recycled content than their regular brands.

If you work in an office, suggest they use recycled paper products…now that larger suppliers are offering them, it’s easier for office managers to buy.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.